The Fortune Cookie Chronicles

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    How to see the original Japanese fortune cookies in Kyoto!

    By Jennifer 8. Lee | January 5, 2010

    I’ve long wanted to write this post. Which is how do you go see the original Japanese fortune cookies that I mention in my book? In my book, we were taken there by the Japanese scholar, so I didn’t have time to explore the surrounding areas.

    So it turns out it is supereasy, as the stores are located only two stops from the main Kyoto station on the JR Nara line, around the  Fushimi Inari Taisha (伏見稲荷大). The shrine, which has thousands of orange arches reminiscent of The Gates at Central Park, is literally right outside the JR train station when you get out. The fortune cookies are but a two- or three-minute walk from the train station after you turn right (assuming you are coming from the Kyoto Station direction). There are about four stores along a single road which make the fortunes cookies, variously called “tsujiura senbei,” (”fortune crackers”) “omikuji senbei” (”written fortune crackers”) or “suzu senbei” (”bell crackers”). But you have to be lucky to catch them when they are making the fortune cookies, as opposed to some of the other cookies.

    Here is a quick snapshot of what the process looks like:

    The entire thing is worth probably a morning or afternoon of your day, as the walk to the top of the mountain is quite pleasant, and there are some lovely teahouses along the way where you can rest and get the view.

    So here are some directions:

    It’s very busy on weekends, as locals and Japanese tourists alike love coming to the shrine. Below are some of my pictures from the journey.

    The fox, or kitsune, is closely associated with Inari, a Shinto kami or spirit, and serve as its highly intelligent messengers. So foxes are everywhere on the way up, around the temple, on the cookies. So below is a chance where people could draw their own fox heads.

    Stone archway (took the picture for the clouds).

    More shrines. You can see the fox statuettes.

    More orange Shinto arches.

    The Japanese fortune cookies themselves cost about $1 each from the various stories (depending on how our dollar/yen exchange rate is going), if you want to bring them home as souvenirs. There is a slight, but not significant discount in bulk. People *love* getting them.

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